“I’d like a country in which there was a maximum of opportunity for any individual to discover his talents and develop his capacities—discover his fullest self and by so doing learn to respect other selves a little. Man is interesting in his differences. It’s all a question of what you make of the differences. I’m not for differences per se, but you just let the world live the differences, live them out, live them up, and see how things come out. But I feel pretty strongly about attempts to legislate undifference. That is just as much tyranny as trying to legislate difference. Apply that to any differences between healthy and unhealthy, criminal and noncriminal. Furthermore, you can’t legislate the future of anybody, in any direction. It’s not laws that are going to determine what our great-grandchildren feel or do. The tragedy of a big half of American liberalism is to try to legislate virtue. You can’t legislate virtue. You should simply try to establish conditions favorable for the growth of virtue. But that will never satisfy the bully-boys of virtue, the plug-uglies of virtue. They are interested in the production-belt stamp of virtue, attitude A in the back of the book, and not in establishing conditions of justice and decency in which human appreciation can find play.”
—Robert Penn Warren, The Art of Fiction No. 18

“I’d like a country in which there was a maximum of opportunity for any individual to discover his talents and develop his capacities—discover his fullest self and by so doing learn to respect other selves a little. Man is interesting in his differences. It’s all a question of what you make of the differences. I’m not for differences per se, but you just let the world live the differences, live them out, live them up, and see how things come out. But I feel pretty strongly about attempts to legislate undifference. That is just as much tyranny as trying to legislate difference. Apply that to any differences between healthy and unhealthy, criminal and noncriminal. Furthermore, you can’t legislate the future of anybody, in any direction. It’s not laws that are going to determine what our great-grandchildren feel or do. The tragedy of a big half of American liberalism is to try to legislate virtue. You can’t legislate virtue. You should simply try to establish conditions favorable for the growth of virtue. But that will never satisfy the bully-boys of virtue, the plug-uglies of virtue. They are interested in the production-belt stamp of virtue, attitude A in the back of the book, and not in establishing conditions of justice and decency in which human appreciation can find play.”

Robert Penn Warren, The Art of Fiction No. 18

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